SAN DIEGO--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--One out of every 11 San Diego County residents living with HIV is unaware of their status. Every 18 hours a new HIV case is diagnosed in the county.
“We need people to know their HIV status, and what they can do to prevent contracting HIV.”
In an effort to raise awareness and reduce HIV infections, County and local health leaders officially launched the “PrEP San Diego” campaign Wednesday. The campaign will raise awareness for PrEP as an effective method of HIV prevention. It also supports the County’s Getting to Zero initiative, which aims to reduce HIV infections to zero in the next 10 years.
“The PrEP campaign is an important step in our ongoing fight against HIV and AIDS,” said Supervisor Ron Roberts. “We need people to know their HIV status, and what they can do to prevent contracting HIV.”
The “PrEP San Diego” campaign is designed to encourage individuals at risk of contracting HIV to consider PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, as a method of HIV prevention. PrEP is an FDA-approved antiretroviral that involves taking a once-daily pill known as Truvada that is up to 99 percent effective in preventing HIV infection.
“PrEP has the potential to significantly reduce new HIV infections,” said Patrick Loose, chief of the HIV, Sexually Transmitted Disease, and Hepatitis branch for the County Health and Human Services Agency. “It is not a vaccine, but it can greatly reduce a person’s chances of getting HIV if they are exposed to it.”
Over the next few months, San Diegans will see billboards, bus shelters and digital ads throughout the region raising awareness for PrEP. The ads encourage those at the greatest risk of contracting HIV to visit PrepSanDiego.com to learn more about Truvada and where to get it in San Diego County. In 2014, a total of 13,200 individuals were diagnosed with HIV in San Diego County.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), access to PrEP could prevent an estimated 48,000 new infections by 2020. Improving access to PrEP and treatment for people living with HIV could prevent as many as 180,000 new HIV infections. The CDC estimates that one in four gay and bisexual men are at sufficiently high risk that they should consider taking PrEP.